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Pope did not comment on Gibson's Passion

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles ) | Dec 24, 2003

According to our collleagues at Catholic News Service, an informed Vatican official has denied reports that Pope John Paul commented favorably on Mel Gibson's film. The Pope watched the film, but made no comment at all, the official insists.

Now here's what makes this particularly interesting:

The "senior Vatican official" in the CNS story is not identified. The official who originally conveyed the Pope's alleged comment was identified: Archbishop Stanislas Dziwisz, the Pope's longtime personal secretary.

Just a few days earlier, another anonymous Vatican official (or maybe it was the same one; who knows?) told reporters that Cardinal Renato Martino was not speaking for the Pope when he accused American troops of treating Saddam Hussein "like a beast."

Notice the pattern? One official, speaking for attribution, issues Statement X. Another official, under cloak of anonymity, says that X is not Vatican policy. The net effect is that everyone is thoroughly confused.

What is the Vatican policy? What does the Pope think? If the Pope would prefer not to comment-- a very sensible alternative-- why are other Vatican officials speaking out? Most confusing of all, if the official line is "no comment," why are the officials who say "no comment" reluctant to identify themselves?

I'd like to offer answers, not just questions. But I'm stumped.

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Show 5 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: News Hound - Dec. 30, 2003 6:47 PM ET USA

    From what I've heard, one can't see this film and not comment on it, which pretty well identifies the pope's thinking. On the other hand, unfavorable comments come from those who either havn't seen the film or who have agendas of their own. It shouldn't be too hard to figure out who in the Vatican fits the latter agenda.

  • Posted by: Dan831 - Dec. 29, 2003 3:58 PM ET USA

    "I know you believe you understand what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant." Who knows what is appropriate anymore?

  • Posted by: RC - Dec. 25, 2003 8:50 AM ET USA

    I suppose that in the thinking of some officials only official policy statements exist, and unofficial personal comments do not. It's an understandable enough caution, in a time when the Pope's personal comments may be relayed across the world and treated as an endorsement of something or other. It has happened before.

  • Posted by: - Dec. 24, 2003 2:54 PM ET USA

    Unbelievable: the Pope saw the movie but said nothing. Very believable: Cardinal Martino spoke but said nothing.

  • Posted by: Pseudodionysius - Dec. 24, 2003 12:19 PM ET USA

    Machiavelli is alive and well at the Vatican. It is as it always was.

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